Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud
User Guide for Linux Instances

Policy Structure

The following topics explain the structure of an IAM policy.

Policy Syntax

An IAM policy is a JSON document that consists of one or more statements. Each statement is structured as follows.

{ "Statement":[{ "Effect":"effect", "Action":"action", "Resource":"arn", "Condition":{ "condition":{ "key":"value" } } } ] }

There are various elements that make up a statement:

  • Effect: The effect can be Allow or Deny. By default, IAM users don't have permission to use resources and API actions, so all requests are denied. An explicit allow overrides the default. An explicit deny overrides any allows.

  • Action: The action is the specific API action for which you are granting or denying permission. To learn about specifying action, see Actions for Amazon EC2.

  • Resource: The resource that's affected by the action. Some Amazon EC2 API actions allow you to include specific resources in your policy that can be created or modified by the action. To specify a resource in the statement, you need to use its Amazon Resource Name (ARN). For more information about specifying the ARN value, see Amazon Resource Names for Amazon EC2. For more information about which API actions support which ARNs, see Supported Resource-Level Permissions for Amazon EC2 API Actions. If the API action does not support ARNs, use the * wildcard to specify that all resources can be affected by the action.

  • Condition: Conditions are optional. They can be used to control when your policy is in effect. For more information about specifying conditions for Amazon EC2, see Condition Keys for Amazon EC2.

For more information about example IAM policy statements for Amazon EC2, see Example Policies for Working with the AWS CLI or an AWS SDK.

Actions for Amazon EC2

In an IAM policy statement, you can specify any API action from any service that supports IAM. For Amazon EC2, use the following prefix with the name of the API action: ec2:. For example: ec2:RunInstances and ec2:CreateImage.

To specify multiple actions in a single statement, separate them with commas as follows:

"Action": ["ec2:action1", "ec2:action2"]

You can also specify multiple actions using wildcards. For example, you can specify all actions whose name begins with the word "Describe" as follows:

"Action": "ec2:Describe*"

To specify all Amazon EC2 API actions, use the * wildcard as follows:

"Action": "ec2:*"

For a list of Amazon EC2 actions, see Actions in the Amazon EC2 API Reference.

Amazon Resource Names for Amazon EC2

Each IAM policy statement applies to the resources that you specify using their ARNs.


Currently, not all API actions support individual ARNs. We'll add support for additional API actions and ARNs for additional Amazon EC2 resources later. For information about which ARNs you can use with which Amazon EC2 API actions, as well as supported condition keys for each ARN, see Supported Resource-Level Permissions for Amazon EC2 API Actions.

An ARN has the following general syntax:


The service (for example, ec2).


The Region for the resource (for example, us-east-1).


The AWS account ID, with no hyphens (for example, 123456789012).


The type of resource (for example, instance).


A path that identifies the resource. You can use the * wildcard in your paths.

For example, you can indicate a specific instance (i-1234567890abcdef0) in your statement using its ARN as follows.

"Resource": "arn:aws:ec2:us-east-1:123456789012:instance/i-1234567890abcdef0"

You can also specify all instances that belong to a specific account by using the * wildcard as follows.

"Resource": "arn:aws:ec2:us-east-1:123456789012:instance/*"

To specify all resources, or if a specific API action does not support ARNs, use the * wildcard in the Resource element as follows.

"Resource": "*"

The following table describes the ARNs for each type of resource used by the Amazon EC2 API actions.

Resource Type ARN

All Amazon EC2 resources


All Amazon EC2 resources owned by the specified account in the specified Region


Customer gateway


Where cgw-id is cgw-xxxxxxxx

DHCP options set


Where dhcp-options-id is dopt-xxxxxxxx

Elastic GPU




Where image-id is the ID of the AMI, AKI, or ARI, and account isn't used



Where instance-id is i-xxxxxxxx or i-xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Instance profile


Where instance-profile-name is the name of the instance profile, and region isn't used

Internet gateway


Where igw-id is igw-xxxxxxxx

Key pair


Where key-pair-name is the key pair name (for example, gsg-keypair)

Launch template


Where launch-template-id is lt-xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

NAT gateway


Where natgateway-id is nat-xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Network ACL


Where nacl-id is acl-xxxxxxxx

Network interface


Where eni-id is eni-xxxxxxxx

Placement group


Where placement-group-name is the placement group name (for example, my-cluster)

Reserved Instance


Where reservation-id is xxxxxxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxxxxxxxxxx

Route table


Where route-table-id is rtb-xxxxxxxx

Security group


Where security-group-id is sg-xxxxxxxx



Where snapshot-id is snap-xxxxxxxx or snap-xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx, and account isn't used

Spot Instance request


Where spot-instance-request-id is sir-xxxxxxxx



Where subnet-id is subnet-xxxxxxxx



Where volume-id is vol-xxxxxxxx or vol-xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx



Where vpc-id is vpc-xxxxxxxx

VPC peering connection


Where vpc-peering connection-id is pcx-xxxxxxxx

VPN connection


Where vpn-connection-id is vpn-xxxxxxxx

VPN gateway


Where vpn-gateway-id is vgw-xxxxxxxx

Many Amazon EC2 API actions involve multiple resources. For example, AttachVolume attaches an Amazon EBS volume to an instance, so an IAM user must have permissions to use the volume and the instance. To specify multiple resources in a single statement, separate their ARNs with commas, as follows.

"Resource": ["arn1", "arn2"]

For more general information about ARNs, see Amazon Resource Names (ARN) and AWS Service Namespaces in the Amazon Web Services General Reference. For more information about the resources that are created or modified by the Amazon EC2 actions, and the ARNs that you can use in your IAM policy statements, see Granting IAM Users Required Permissions for Amazon EC2 Resources in the Amazon EC2 API Reference.

Condition Keys for Amazon EC2

In a policy statement, you can optionally specify conditions that control when it is in effect. Each condition contains one or more key-value pairs. Condition keys are not case-sensitive. We've defined AWS-wide condition keys, plus additional service-specific condition keys.

If you specify multiple conditions, or multiple keys in a single condition, we evaluate them using a logical AND operation. If you specify a single condition with multiple values for one key, we evaluate the condition using a logical OR operation. For permissions to be granted, all conditions must be met.

You can also use placeholders when you specify conditions. For example, you can grant an IAM user permission to use resources with a tag that specifies his or her IAM user name. For more information, see Policy Variables in the IAM User Guide.


Many condition keys are specific to a resource, and some API actions use multiple resources. If you write a policy with a condition key, use the Resource element of the statement to specify the resource to which the condition key applies. If not, the policy may prevent users from performing the action at all, because the condition check fails for the resources to which the condition key does not apply. If you do not want to specify a resource, or if you've written the Action element of your policy to include multiple API actions, then you must use the ...IfExists condition type to ensure that the condition key is ignored for resources that do not use it. For more information, see ...IfExists Conditions in the IAM User Guide.

Amazon EC2 implements the following service-specific condition keys. For information about which condition keys you can use with which Amazon EC2 resources, on an action-by-action basis, see Supported Resource-Level Permissions for Amazon EC2 API Actions.

Condition Key Key-Value Pair Evaluation Types



Where vpc-arn is the VPC ARN for the accepter VPC in a VPC peering connection

ARN, Null



Where service-principal is the service principal (for example,

String, Null



Where principal-arn is the ARN for the principal (for example, arn:aws:iam::123456789012:root)

ARN, Null



Where az-api-name is the name of the Availability Zone (for example, us-east-2a)

To list your Availability Zones, use describe-availability-zones

String, Null

ec2:CreateAction "ec2:CreateAction":"api-name"

Where api-name is the name of the resource-creating action (for example, RunInstances)

String, Null



Where optimized-flag is true | false (for an instance)

Boolean, Null



Where elastic-gpu-type is the name of the elastic GPU type

String, Null

ec2:Encrypted "ec2:Encrypted":"encrypted-flag"

Where encrypted-flag is true | false (for an EBS volume)

Boolean, Null



Where image-type-api-name is machine | aki | ari

String, Null



Where market-type is spot | on-demand

String, Null



Where instance-profile-arn is the instance profile ARN

ARN, Null



Where instance-type-api-name is the name of the instance type

String, Null



Where launch-template-resource-flag is true | false

Boolean, Null



Where launch-template-arn is the launch template ARN

ARN, Null



Where account-id is amazon | aws-marketplace | aws-account-id

String, Null



Where snapshot-arn is the snapshot ARN

ARN, Null



Where volume-arn is the volume ARN

ARN, Null




String, Null



Where placement-group-arn is the placement group ARN

ARN, Null



Where placement-group-strategy is cluster | spread

String, Null



Where product-code is the product code

String, Null



Where public-flag is true | false (for an AMI)

Boolean, Null



Where region-name is the name of the Region (for example, us-east-2). To list your Regions, use describe-regions. This condition key can be used with all Amazon EC2 actions.

String, Null



Where vpc-arn is the VPC ARN for the requester VPC in a VPC peering connection

ARN, Null



Where offering-type is No Upfront | Partial Upfront | All Upfront

String, Null



Where tag-key and tag-value are the tag-key pair

String, Null



Where root-device-type-name is ebs | instance-store

String, Null



Where time is the snapshot creation time (for example, 2013-06-01T00:00:00Z)

Date, Null



Where subnet-arn is the subnet ARN

ARN, Null



Where tenancy-attribute is default | dedicated | host

String, Null



Where volume-iops is the input/output operations per second (IOPS). For more information, see Amazon EBS Volume Types.

Numeric, Null



Where volume-size is the size of the volume, in GiB

Numeric, Null



Where volume-type-name is gp2 for General Purpose SSD volumes, io1 for Provisioned IOPS SSD volumes, st1 for Throughput Optimized HDD volumes, sc1 for Cold HDD volumes, or standard for Magnetic volumes.

String, Null



Where vpc-arn is the VPC ARN

ARN, Null

Amazon EC2 also implements the AWS-wide condition keys. For more information, see Information Available in All Requests in the IAM User Guide.

All Amazon EC2 actions support the aws:RequestedRegion and ec2:Region condition keys. For more information, see Example: Restricting Access to a Specific Region.

The ec2:SourceInstanceARN key can be used for conditions that specify the ARN of the instance from which a request is made. This condition key is available AWS-wide and is not service-specific. For policy examples, see Allows an EC2 Instance to Attach or Detach Volumes and Example: Allowing a Specific Instance to View Resources in Other AWS Services. The ec2:SourceInstanceARN key cannot be used as a variable to populate the ARN for the Resource element in a statement.

The following AWS condition keys were introduced for Amazon EC2 and are supported by a limited number of additional services.

Condition Key Key/Value Pair Evaluation Types



Where tag-key and tag-value are the tag key-value pair

String, Null



Where tag-key is a list of tag keys (for example, ["A","B"])

String, Null

For example policy statements for Amazon EC2, see Example Policies for Working with the AWS CLI or an AWS SDK.

Checking That Users Have the Required Permissions

After you've created an IAM policy, we recommend that you check whether it grants users the permissions to use the particular API actions and resources they need before you put the policy into production.

First, create an IAM user for testing purposes, and then attach the IAM policy that you created to the test user. Then, make a request as the test user.

If the Amazon EC2 action that you are testing creates or modifies a resource, you should make the request using the DryRun parameter (or run the AWS CLI command with the --dry-run option). In this case, the call completes the authorization check, but does not complete the operation. For example, you can check whether the user can terminate a particular instance without actually terminating it. If the test user has the required permissions, the request returns DryRunOperation; otherwise, it returns UnauthorizedOperation.

If the policy doesn't grant the user the permissions that you expected, or is overly permissive, you can adjust the policy as needed and retest until you get the desired results.


It can take several minutes for policy changes to propagate before they take effect. Therefore, we recommend that you allow five minutes to pass before you test your policy updates.

If an authorization check fails, the request returns an encoded message with diagnostic information. You can decode the message using the DecodeAuthorizationMessage action. For more information, see DecodeAuthorizationMessage in the AWS Security Token Service API Reference, and decode-authorization-message in the AWS CLI Command Reference.